Buying A Chinchilla – 8 Things I Learned From A Champion Breeder

Buying a chinchilla is something you should never rush into. You should research what their every need are, but since you’re reading this I guess you already are?! You’re onto a great start! Now that I have my chinchilla, Jasper, I get asked this question a lot “Where can I buy a Chinchilla, and is it better to buy from a breeder?” Here is what I tell my friends:

Generally, pet stores are best avoided. I don’t like to say that though, because many wonderful pets can be purchased at pet stores. If you feel your only option is to purchase your chinchilla from a pet store, know how to judge a healthy animal before buying! In most cases, you will not be able to find out anything about the Chinchillas background should you decide to go the “pet store” route. 

Pet Store Chinchillas

When buying a chinchilla from a pet store, you don’t know if the chinchilla came from healthy parents or if they were inbred or if they have a history of health defects, etc. Also, you will pay more for a basic standard grey chinchilla and get a much lower quality of the animal. BUY FROM A REPUTABLE BREEDER who cares about the health and quality of the chinchilla they will sell to you because they want to keep a good reputation as a quality breeder. At a breeder, you will get a bigger selection of colors to choose from, much better quality, health, and price. Chinchillas rarely if ever need to go to a vet. Start with a quality animal and avoid costly vet bills and heartache.

Breeders can be great, and they can be really bad! You will make that judgment as you deal with a breeder.

[highlight background=”yellow” color=”black”]TIP: If you are buying a baby ask to see the parents. This is a good indication of what the baby will grow up to look like. [/highlight]

Chinchillas From Breeders

I would buy a chinchilla from a reputable breeder. They keep track of their breeding lines and will be able to give you a pedigree. You can see the parents of the chinchilla you want to purchase. As with any pet, you are better off to spend a little more money in the beginning to get a healthy, good quality animal than to impulse buy at a pet store and end up with heartache and expensive vet bills later. Plus if you eventually decide you want to breed a pair of chinchillas you know you have a good quality animal to produce good quality offspring. Be picky when you choose an animal. Look at pictures online so you can decide which kind you want and look the animal over carefully. Check his eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, feet, etc. Make sure they are lively and alert not lethargic. Do you want a large or small chinchilla? At chinchilla shows (yes, they have shows just like dog shows) they like the animals to be on the larger size. So, if you want to breed or show eventually than you will want to keep that in mind. Also, keep in mind that really large or overweight chinchillas can be slower to reproduce. In my experience, the larger chinchillas tend to be calmer. I do have a few smaller breeding pairs, but most of my herd are large animals. So, if you are looking to buy larger chinchillas, it’s definitely a good idea to look at the parents so you can get a better idea of how large your chinchilla will grow to be.


I recommend visiting several breeders before making a purchase from just one unless of course, you feel really good about the breeder you visit. It is a good idea to see what is out there in the Chinchilla world. Almost every color you can think of is now being bred! As someone making a purchase, you will want to research your options. Most people making a Chinchilla purchase for the first time would be really surprised how many breeders are right in their own area. Until a buyer does a bit of research, they have no way of knowing where the Chinchilla breeders are!

Do your homework!


Things to consider


Chins can live anywhere between 10-15 yrs of age, and in some cases, they can exceed 20 yrs. It is a long-term commitment, which should not be taken Buying A Chinchilla Champion Breeder-1lightly.


Chinchillas are naturally nocturnal animals. You cannot change this. Do not try to keep your chinchillas awake all day and actually expect them to sleep all night. When you’re awake, up and about during the day and ready for a play, they will be fast asleep. Usually, from my experience, they wake early evening in between 8-10 o’clock.


Most chins do not like being picked up and held. However, they do love being tickled under their chins and staying still for treats! So, if you are expecting to get an animal that will sit with you like a cat, a chinchilla is not the animal for you.


Initially buying a chinchilla (or two), it’s cage, food and accessories are expensive. But the actual cost of keeping it (them) doesn’t in my experience usually exceed more than $10-$15 per month. BUT you must understand that if your chinchilla gets sick, the vet bill can eat a hole in your pocket.


Chinchillas chew everything! Please be very thorough and careful in safeguarding wires and valuable furniture from chins as they chew anything they can get ahold of. Make sure plants are removed or raised out of the way. Also, their teeth and jaws should be checked regularly for any abnormalities. Chewing proper wood and such is good for them as it is a way for them to keep their teeth filed.


Chinchillas need daily, not excess exercise. A chinchilla should be let out for a play once a day, never longer than 20 minutes as this can cause exhaustion. Catching them can be a nightmare – you have been warned!!! But often you can get them to run into their dust bath for easy capture. Make sure that all small gaps are blocked. If in the bathroom ensure the toilet lid is closed, there is nothing dangerous in the trashcan, and monitor the temperature, so it doesn’t become too warm.


If your chinchilla is bought from a reputable breeder, this should not be too difficult, as they will of handled the chinchilla since birth it should be friendly and have no nasty traits bred in. Although there is no guarantee on this. I use ‘training’ in the broad sense of the word, as chinchillas are not like cats and dogs, they will not sit, fetch and play on demand, neither will they come when you call. However, they can be trained to a certain degree.
When you first bring your chinchilla home, you should allow him/her time to settle in. After a couple of days, they should be getting familiar with their new home, sounds, and the environment. A good way to help a chinchilla settle in is to play some music (quietly) but make sure the wires/cables are not within chewing distance! Begin by feeding some treats daily (1 or 2! I know it’s tempting to feed them lots, but ultimately you could make your chin very sick).

Don’t be frightened to pick your chinchilla up after it has had time to get used to you; I know it is nerve racking the first few times, but you will get used to it. With one hand under the belly and back legs to fully support your chin, your other hand should hold the base of the tail, firmly but not tightly. Hold them close to your body because many chins are afraid of being held out in mid-air.

It is a good idea at play times (once you have chinny proofed the wires and valuables etc.!) to sit in the middle of the room and let your chin sniff, play and run all over you. When the chinchilla is ready to come to you, it will.

In my experience there is no actual time in which a chinchilla will be more friendly with you (apart from treat time!), it is a very time consuming, but an enjoyable thing. You will soon get to know all of your chinchillas’ little habits and character traits, as they will yours.

Bonding with your chinchilla is one of the best things about owning them. But remember all chins are different just like us, and it will take time to get to know them. Have fun…

Choosing A Chinchilla

When choosing where to buy your chinchilla, I would advise only buying from a reputable breeder, as pet shops and independent rescue centers often do not know the history of the animal, age.

As with most reputable breeders, you should receive a full and comprehensive pedigree (basically a family tree). You should be careful to check its teeth, ears, eyes, fur, feet, and droppings for any irregularities. Healthy teeth and fur should look like this:

  • Their feet should have no infections,  sores, or limps. It’s okay if their feet look dry or tough. Sitting in their cages will cause their feet to look like this. An animal moisturizer, should clear it right up and is available from most good pet shops.
  • A chins’ ears should not be scaly. Tiny rips and blemishes do sometimes occur if the parent and kit, mating partners or kit and kit have disagreements.
  • The eyes should in no way be runny; this is either an infection or worse, malocclusion. They should instead be clear and bright.
  • Chin droppings should look firm, not sticky or runny.
  • I recommend that you pick up the chinchilla and feel along its spine to see if it is very bony, this could be a deficiency in food or a genetic defect. This type of defect most commonly occurs when small colors are breed to small colors. The influence of a standard should always be used to maintain the quality, which any reputable breeder does.


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